Summertime is officially here, the legislative session is over, the Fourth of July is coming up and that means the election season is officially underway.
Sure, it seems like Election Day is still a long way off. LSU will be playing its sixth game of the season by then (versus Florida at Tiger Stadium, if you’re interested) and the heat should at least be moderating. But in the days and weeks ahead, the yard signs will begin to proliferate, and you’ll be seeing and hearing from more and more candidates.
And it’s no wonder. Not only is there a major governor’s race, but all statewide officials are up for election, as well as members of BESE, and the entire Legislature. This year more than ever, term limits is really kicking in with more than a third of legislators unable to run for their current seats.
All that adds up to an important election for our state. For most of the last decade the biggest issue facing Louisiana has been the budget. It was a year-in-and-year-out distraction that kept us from focusing on some of the significant issues we need to address to lift ourselves up. Now that distraction is behind us, at least for a while, and this election year gives us the opportunity to put the spotlight on the matters that are important to our future.
That’s why CABL, the Public Affair Research Council and the Committee of 100 for Economic Development have come together in a unique nonpartisan election initiative called RESET Louisiana’s Future. It’s an effort that focuses on four critical areas: education, state fiscal policies, infrastructure, and criminal justice/public safety reform.
They’re not the only issues that impact our state, but they represent areas where we can move the needle in positive ways that can influence the trajectory of Louisiana for the future. In addition, at CABL we will be putting out more in-depth policy briefs on education, surveying candidates in the governor’s race on important issues, and partnering once again with Louisiana Public Broadcasting for a statewide gubernatorial debate this fall.
This is a critical time for Louisiana. We sit at the bottom of more lists than we can count, and though we’ve seen progress in some areas, we know we need to do more. We also know the issues we need to address. They’re the same ones that we have talked about for years. But elections provide an opportunity to make our voices heard and issue a call to action. We believe the message to candidates this year is straightforward. The pledge they should make to voters is that they will move forward on the issues that for too long have held us back.
There are a million issues that can get candidates a lot of publicity and redirect the attention of voters and the media to things that are noisy and distracting, but ultimately get us nowhere. This year, nowhere can’t be good enough. We need to ask our leaders to lead and do so in a direction that sends a message to voters in Louisiana and onlookers in the rest of the country that the bottom of the heap isn’t acceptable. Louisiana is moving forward.
We won’t get where we need to be overnight, but we won’t get there at all unless we get started. Louisiana needs a RESET. This is the year to do it.